Reappraisals: Part III – Lost in Transition

Part III of Reappraisals is probably the least satisfying part of the book especially for someone who has little interest in France which takes up the first two chapters.  The other chapters on Tony Blair and Israel appear rather crass as Judt rips Blair for his lack of vision and Israel for its inability to grasp political realities.  While I think in some cases he makes a good argument, and in the case of the essay on Israel’s childishness even prescient as the relationship between the US and Israel is slowly deteriorating.  But these essay seem personal rather than historical and I do not see how they fit into the broader themes he is trying to articulate in this collection.  The one essay in this section that I did enjoy was on Romania.  Historically, this essay does really contribute much and I would suggest reading Vladimir Tismăneanu Stalinism for all Seasons which is a great introduction to communist Romania.  However, Judt examines Romania’s unique position and its possibility of gaining entry into the EU emphasizing that, unlike Poland, Hungary, and Slovenia, Romania was never a Christian outpost in Eastern Europe and spent many years under Ottoman rule making Romania special case.  By permitting Romania to enter the EU, the EU displays a willingness to expand and maybe someday accept countries into the union that are not in Europe geographically such as Turkey.  Judt is trying to emphasize that Romania’s acceptance set a precedent that will allow the EU to grow beyond Europe itself. Though, this may change in today’s current economic climate.  I would imagine that if the EU is able to survive the current crises, it will not plan on expanding for many years as it will have to create new institutions and regulations concerning the Euro and banking.  To get a good understanding of the current crisis look at FP magazine’s article. Thus, while Romania’s entrance has perhaps created a precedent to expand beyond Europe someday, it will probably not occur for many years.

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